Memorial Day weekend ended with a cool, wet Monday, but the remainder of the week looks warm and sunny, a wonderful time to participate in any outdoor recreation!
Wisconsin’s Free Fun Weekend is this weekend, Saturday and Sunday, June 1-2, and the following outdoors activities are free for both Wisconsin residents and visitors: free fishing; free entry to state parks and forests; free DNR trails use; and free ATV/UTV riding on public trails open to such uses. For more information and details, search “Free Fun Weekend” on the DNR website.
“Our beautiful spring start was interrupted with rain, winds, and cooler temperatures,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “and inclement weather slowed fishing action.
“Musky anglers are working shorelines, slowly retrieving smaller spinnerbaits, swim baits, and crankbaits. We encourage catch and release of all muskies.
“Walleyes are mostly in post-spawn mode, though anglers are still catching some males emitting milt. Walleyes continue to roam near spawning grounds out to 10 feet over rocky, sandy creek and stream areas. Slip bobbers and fatheads, as well as jigs and minnows work, with trolling taking a few fish.
“Northern pike are actively roaming shallower waters looking for prey and anglers are catching pike on many types of baits. The best bet is casting small crankbaits or spinnerbaits along shorelines and retrieving slowly.
“Largemouth bass are moving into shallow weedy areas in preparation for spawn and anglers casting smaller crankbaits are catching a few fish. Smallmouth bass are on rock and gravel areas. Until June 15, smallmouth bass season is catch and release only.
“Crappies moved shallow to spawn, but the weather moved them out again. They will return to shallow areas once temperatures warm.”
Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage is full, with the water temperature 57-59 degrees.
“Muskies are moving and anglers are catching some smaller fish in the upper 20s to lower 30s on smaller baits, but no big ones yet. Use 6-inch or smaller baits, with spinners and crankbaits most productive. Target shallow bays rich in baitfish and crappies.
“The walleye bite remains decent, though mostly for undersize fish. Minnows and leeches on jigs are the live baits of choice, with Flicker Shads and plastic minnows for artificials. Target decent weed cover in 6-12 feet and if you do not get action, work toward deeper brushy bottoms.
“The northern pike bite remains strong on the west side on live bait, spinners, and spoons. Anglers are catching many small fish, which is great for our Pike Improvement Project! Keep all the northerns you catch (to the limit) and bring them to the shop for your project raffle tickets.
“Crappie anglers report fish both shallow and deep. Look for sunshine and warmer water to turn on the crappies again, and crappie minnows, Gulp! Minnows, and Crappie Nibbles are all solid bait choices.”
Jim at Minnow Jim’s says Nelson Lake walleye anglers are fishing fatheads, leeches, and crawlers along shorelines wherever they find panfish.
“For bass, work developing weed beds with crawlers, spinners, and plastic scented worms and frogs.
“Crappies are scattered – try drift fishing with minnows and worms.
“Legend has it bluegills spawn when the poplar fuzz pops. Apparently, the bluegills did not get the memo. Find the warmest water you can and fish with waxies, worms, leeches, and small minnows on jigs and/or under bobbers.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter reviews the spring 2019 fish surveys.
“Ice-out in northern Wisconsin this year was, by historical standards, fairly normal, and ice-out on lakes leads to a flurry of survey activity for DNR fish teams.
“The Hayward Team started by netting for northern pike and walleye on Ashegon Lake, finding good numbers of pike and lesser numbers of walleye. Next, a one-night netting survey on Spring Lake found very high numbers of pike and panfish, results that immediately erased any concerns about widespread winterkill on Spring Lake.
“We next set nets for walleye and northern pike on the west side of the Chippewa Flowage where there was still approximately 40 percent ice cover on the lake. Walleye catch rates were very high and size showed slight improvement over previous years. The pike catch was not very high, most likely due to net locations that primarily targeted islands and rock points to capture walleye.
“After the Chippewa Flowage, we set nets for a three-day walleye survey on Round Lake and found good numbers of walleye despite challenging weather.
“Next, we set musky and crappie nets in each lake of the Tiger Cat Flowage chain. The crappies cooperated very well, the musky did not, and that theme carried through for the rest of the spring.
“The Hayward Team worked with a DNR research crew to net muskellunge on Lost Land Lake to calculate the total number of muskies. Netting was slower than previous years, but captured enough fish to accomplish the objective. Netting for muskies was similarly challenging on Round Lake, but crappie catch and size were exceptional.
“Hatchery crews netted the Chippewa Flowage for both walleye and muskellunge, successfully collecting enough eggs from both to meet area fish rearing needs.
“Next up are electrofishing surveys that will target bass and bluegill on most of these previously mentioned lakes.”
Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies, Inc. invites the public to attend its meeting Tuesday, June 4, at Flat Creek Eatery. Admission is free. The general meeting begins at 7 p.m. This month’s featured guest is John Myhre, well-known long-time local guide and radio host. Myhre’s presentation, “Demystifying Fishing Electronics,” will cover depth finders, GPS, down-scan, and side-scan imaging and you will leave this meeting with a much better understanding of your boat’s electronics. People interested in becoming a new member of Muskies Inc. can purchase a half-price membership at the meeting. For more information, call Mike Persson (715) 634-4543.
Sponsors and landowners interested in hosting an Oct. 5-13 gun deer hunt for hunters with disabilities have until June 1 to submit their applications. Landowners should own at least 60 acres of land and must allow at least three disabled hunters to use their land during the hunt. For more information, search “disabled deer hunt” on the DNR website.
Hunters interested in applying for an elk harvest tag for the 2019 fall hunting season have until May 31 to submit an application. Only Wisconsin residents may apply, the application fee is $10, and the license for drawing winners costs $49. For more information, search “elk” on the DNR website and visit www.rmef.org/wisconsin.
Musky season in the Northern Zone opened this past Saturday, with some anglers reporting success, though mostly for smaller fish. Concentrate on shallower bays and shorelines holding panfish, casting smaller crankbaits, spinners, spinnerbaits, and swim baits.
Walleye fishing is good to excellent, but anglers are catching many small fish. Weather changes will make a difference in the near future, but for now, look for fish in 5-15 feet along shorelines, brush, weeds, rock, sand, and near panfish concentrations. Baits of choice include fatheads, leeches, crawlers fished on jigs and/or under slip bobbers; Flicker Shads, minnow baits, plastic minnows, and trolled crankbaits.
Northern pike are very active and action continues all day. Look for pike along shallower, weedy shorelines and around weed beds, especially any areas holding panfish concentrations. The most productive offerings include live bait (northern and walleye suckers if you can find them!), jigs/minnows, spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, and crankbaits.
Largemouth bass are starting to show signs of life in shallow, weedy areas as they start their move to spawning. Crawlers, crankbaits, spinners, and plastics of assorted shapes and sizes are all producing largemouth action.
Smallmouth bass are active, but remember fishing is catch and release only until June 15. Look for fish on shallow to mid-depth rock, gravel, and other hard bottom areas. Live bait and plastics fished slowly will get their attention.
Crappie fishing is fair to frustrating, though a few anglers have cracked the code. Fish are in various depths as the weather affects their staging attempts. Work shallower water during warmer, sunny days. Baits of choice include crappie minnows, plastics, and Gulp! baits fished on jigs and plain hooks with or without slip bobbers.
Bluegill fishing is fair to good as fish stage near the shallows for spawning, though the weather is also affecting their efforts. Look for shallow, warm, and weedy locations and use waxies, worms, leeches, and small minnows on jigs, teardrops, and plain hooks, with or without bobbers.
May 22-28: Period F spring turkey season.
June 1-2: Free Fun Weekend – free admission to all state parks, forests, and trails.
Through June 14: Smallmouth bass season catch and release only.
June 15: Northern zone smallmouth bass season goes to daily bag limits. (See regs).
June 23: Hayward Bass Club Round Lake Open; 8 a.m.-4 p.m. (715-699-1015).
Through July 31: Illegal to allow unleashed dogs to run on DNR lands and FWPAs (see regs).